Catalyst CF and PwC CF advise on Alcumus | Santia deal

07 December 2015

Technology firm Alcumus has acquired Santia, a Cardiff headquartered health and safety and accreditation services provider, in a deal worth almost £50 million. The transaction was advised on by Catalyst Corporate Finance (buy-side) and PwC Corporate Finance (sell-side). 

Alcumus is a provider of technology-enabled compliance, certification and verification risk management solutions. The organisation, formed through the integration of five companies, serves over 8,000 clients, including more than 20% of the FTSE 100. Just two months ago Alcumus completed a £92 million buy-out from its former owner Sovereign Capital, supported by private equity firm Inflexion, with the aim of accelerating its growth.

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As part of its expansion plans, Alcumus has bought Santia, in a move which significantly broadens its footprint in the accreditation and certification market. Santia, which is headquartered in Cardiff and has a regional office in Nottinghamshire, is one of UK’s largest providers of health & safety risk management solutions, and following the integration the enlarged business will employ 700 professionals, serving over 30,000 clients both in the UK and internationally. Martin Smith, CEO of Alcumus, says “The addition of Santia represents a significant development for Alcumus; the combined Alcumus and Santia business makes us the major player in risk management solutions in the UK.”

The £47 million deal was advised on by Catalyst Corporate Finance, a corporate finance firm with three offices across the country that focuses on the mid-market, and the M&A practice of Big Four giant PwC. Catalyst Corporate Finance supported buyer Alcumus with among others financial advisory, and transaction support throughout the due diligence process and negotiations phase. For both parties it was the second engagement in the space of just a few weeks – Catalyst Corporate Finance also supported Alcumus financially with its buy-out. “We have worked with Alcumus for some time having advised the shareholders on the buy-out earlier in the year and we are continuing to work with them as they seek to grow the business and expand their offering. They are a great team and this acquisition marks a significant step forward in achieving their ambitious business plan,” comments Richard Holden, Director at Catalyst. 

Commenting on the support by Catalyst, Smith says that Catalyst’s advice and support “has been invaluable” in achieving a successful deal.

Martin Smith - Richard Holden - Rob Asplin - Marc Davies

The shareholder of Santia, Better Capital, who acquired the company on 1 February 2011 from the administrators of Connaught, was advised by PwC Corporate Finance, which was engaged in the summer of this year to find a buyer for Santia as part of the private equity firm’s wider strategy to shrink its investment portfolio*. “Having attracted significant early interest from both a range of strategic and financial investors, Alcumus was identified as a strategic bidder following a competitive auction process,” comments Marc Davies, who heads PwC’s West & Wales Corporate Finance practice. He believes that the deal represents a great outcome for all those involved, also referring to the of 2.8x exit return enjoyed by Better Capital, stating “all parties have worked tirelessly to deliver this fantastic deal result.”

Rob Asplin, who joined Better Capital shortly after its formation in January 2010 (by private equity veteran investor Jon Moulton) from BDO and now leads the transacting team, says he is pleased with the outcome, as well as process, commenting: “Looking back at the timetable PwC designed at the beginning of the process, we hit it almost to the day, which is a great achievement. Their excellent relationships with the buyer population, sector insight and a well-structured process helped deliver a very good return for Better Capital.”

* Better Capital for instance recently offloaded Fairline, the yacht-maker, and is currently exploring the sale fashion retailer of Jaeger.